Thoughts of “Boomerang” Employees

31 Dec

I’m fond of “groaner” joke he learned from our daughter: What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?

A stick.

Now that we’ve gotten that awful out of the way, I want to share with you the benefits of “boomerang” employees. Those are the folks who leave your employ and then decide to come back to work for you. Many companies find boomerang employees are more productive the second time around, often as a result of learning additional skills while they were away. Their second stay by a boomerang employee may also be a longer one:

“We find that boomerang employees often ‘stick’ longer the second time around,” said Sarah Gutek, VP for human resources at Foremost Insurance. “To keep them longer the second time around, we also offer continuation of service incentives. Basically, if they stay with us for two years after being rehired, we’ll give them credit for all of their previous years of service, as well.” These incentives count towards Foremost’s vacation pay, incentive plans, and service awards programs. (Posted at

So how do we get more former employees to boomerang? There are a number of techniques you can use to stay in touch with those you would like to have back sometime in the future, but it’s clear to us you will also need to create and sustain a work environment and culture which will entice them to return. Consider the following comments from two employees who work for companies recognized as “Best-Places-to-Work”, whose cultures are highly productive and engaging:

“I inquired about the turnover here when I was job hunting and it was extremely low.  In fact, it appeared that anyone who left the company always found the grass was greener here and asked to come back… to which the company always obliged.”

“I’ve been with the company seven years. I was one of the first employees and we now have over 400. In 2005, I foolishly decided I wanted to experience working in another business environment and left. I was back within a year. This is truly a unique place to work and I have been so fortunate to be involved with this company.”

Comments like these are far more frequent at companies where engagement is already quite high. Think about it—would you want to go back to a disengaging workplace?

I admonish you to passionately work on the six universal engagement drivers we’ve uncovered in our book—Re-Engage. Doing so will help you develop the kind of environment that will act as a magnet to entice great employees to “boomerang” back to you.

Otherwise, instead of getting a great employee to return, you’ll just end up with a stick.

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